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Alan Finder: Former Newsday journalist was 'masterful' but humble

Alan Finder interviews children at a school in

Alan Finder interviews children at a school in Ardsley, N.Y., in 2005. Credit: The New York Times / Librado Romero

Alan A. Finder was a "masterful" reporter and editor, yet he "never felt he was better than anyone else," remembers colleague Martin Gottlieb, an editor at Newsday.

Finder was a reporter for Newsday before he went on to work 28 years at The New York Times. He died March 24 at 72 after testing positive for COVID-19.

Times executive editor Dean Baquet called Finder, who retired in December 2011, “a generous and patient colleague.”

“He was one of Metro’s stars in the 1980s and 1990s, a big writer in a big, hugely competitive era for New York City news,” Baquet said.

Finder, who was living in Ridgewood, New Jersey, was born in Brooklyn but grew up in Nassau County.

He received a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Rochester in 1969 and a master's in American studies from Yale University in 1972.

He worked for The Record in Hackensack, New Jersey, from 1974 to 1979, then jopined Newsday. He worked as a reporter, covering local news, politics, energy and projects between 1979 and 1983 before heading to The Times.

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There he reported on a wide range of topics from City Hall to labor and education. He also served as a sports enterprise editor and assistant editor on the foreign desk.

Gottlieb, who worked with Finder at The Record, brought him back to Newsday as a freelance editor on 2018’s "Pathway to Power," which became an award-winning investigation of the rise of Oheka Castle owner Gary Melius through “Long Island’s cozy political system.” Gottlieb called Finder “unflappable” and “masterful.”

“He had a tremendous amount of humility, too, and he never felt he was better than anyone else,” Gottlieb said. “He was just a good soul.”

Gottlieb and Newsday reporter Sandra Peddie said Finder played a key role on the Melius project. Finder was initially slated to just be an extra set of eyes on the complex project but ended up as the main editor when Gottlieb was sidelined by a medical emergency.

“We all came to appreciate his intelligence, his journalistic smarts and his sense of humor, Peddie recalled. "He really didn’t let much rattle him, even the long commute he made from New Jersey to get to Long Island.” 

“He was so down to earth …" she said. “The world is a much sadder place without him.”

Finder left behind his wife, Elaine Isaacson, as well as daughter Lauren Elizabeth Drucker and son Jason Finder.

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